FOR RELEASE: September 10, 2021

Contact: Richard T. Kaplar
The Media Institute

Arlington, Va., September 10, 2021 – An accomplished TV journalist and a leading figure in the growth of the telecom industry will present awards at The Media Institute’s “Free Speech America” Virtual Gala on Oct. 20.

“CBS Mornings” co-host Gayle King will present the Freedom of Speech Award to Norah O’Donnell, anchor and managing editor of the “CBS Evening News.”

Randall Stephenson, former chairman and chief executive officer of AT&T Inc., will present the American Horizon Award to William E. Kennard, Chairman of the Board of AT&T Inc.

Gayle King interviews top newsmakers and delivers original reporting to “CBS Mornings” and all CBS News broadcasts and platforms.  She is also editor-at-large of Oprah Daily and hosts a live, weekly radio show titled “Gayle King in the House” on SiriusXM.

Randall Stephenson served for 13 years as AT&T’s chairman and CEO, building the company into a world leader in the technology, media, and telecom space with 2019 revenues of more than $180 billion.  He received the Institute’s American Horizon Award in 2011.

“CBS Evening News” anchor and managing editor Norah O’Donnell also anchors CBS News election specials and is a correspondent for “60 Minutes.”  William Kennard served as Chairman of the FCC from 1997 to 2001, a time of explosive growth in wireless phones and broadband technology.

The Institute will also honor Senator Gordon H. Smith, president and CEO of the National Association of Broadcasters, with a special Lifetime Achievement Award recognizing his career of unparalleled leadership in both government and industry.  Senator Smith will be the event’s Featured Speaker.

The “Free Speech America” Gala will take place in virtual format again this year on Oct. 20.  The master of ceremonies will be communications attorney and former FCC chairman Richard E. Wiley.  The Gala will be the Institute’s signature event marking Free Speech Week, Oct. 18-24.

The Freedom of Speech Award recognizes an individual who has worked to advance free speech, a free press, and the First Amendment.  The American Horizon Award recognizes an individual for visionary leadership in the communications industry.

Information about sponsorship opportunities and benefits can be found on The Media Institute’s website at

The Media Institute is a nonprofit foundation specializing in communications policy and the First Amendment.  Visit the Institute online at

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